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My Long Rant On The Hotel From Hell
Britannia Hotels in general
Member Name: karenuk
Britannia Hotels in general
Date: 23/08/02, updated on 23/08/02 (104 review reads)
Advantages: central location, near to Lush, Offy got us a discount
Disadvantages: far too hot, appalling wheelchair access, noisy
THE BRITANNIA HOTEL, BIRMINGHAM - August 2002
I am not used to staying in hotels very often, so when we had the big Ciao meet last weekend, it was a bit of a treat for me and I was looking forward to it. As it was, I didn’t get to bed ‘til gone 3am and was up around 8am, so spent very little time in my bed. (And no, I didn’t spend any time in anyone else’s bed either!) But I saw enough to form an opinion.
Allie and I arrived there on the Saturday morning and tried to check in. We were told we couldn’t until 1pm, although this was extended until 2pm at some point later. The two women behind reception were friendly and helpful though and offered to look after our suitcases, placing them in the room behind the desk.
The hotel is in a beautifully central location, near to Birmingham New Street station and right near a load of shops and eating places – ideal for the Ciao meet! It is hard to find the entrance though, as it is off down a side street and it doesn’t look like you are allowed to get in that way at first.
The reception area itself isn’t great. It is dark and dingy and there’s a wobbly ramp that I never felt safe walking down. Still, we were there, apprehensive but excited at meeting old and new friends.
There was a board in reception saying the Ciao meet was in the Malvern Lounge on the second floor, so that’s where we headed for. I had been planning to use the stairs as I normally do, but they looked a bit confusing, so I got in the lift with Allie.
The lifts deserve a whole paragraph to themselves. Yes, they are spacious, useful and covered with mirrors so you could see just how dishevelled you looked. But only one of the two worked at all during the weekend and no one seemed to be doing anything to repair the broken one.
You had to wait an age for the lift to arrive as there are so many floors and with everyone needing different leve
ls, they took seemingly forever to get to you and longer again to deposit you on the right floor. Not impressive at all. (Oh, two paragraphs then, not one.)
The Malvern Suite was a huge room, lovely and spacious, easily enough to happily seat the fifty of us attending – but at a price. There were no windows, the air conditioning wasn’t working and the temperature was in the thirties. We were sweltering!
It really was very unpleasant. I decided to change my clothes halfway through the day, because I was feeling so uncomfortable and I kept sneaking another squidge of deodorant under my armpits to alleviate any smells.
This did have a positive side to it though – I’m sure I lost weight! In fact, it felt a bit like a general Detox really! I sweated loads as though I was in a sauna. I was nervous, so only ate one meal a day. (I have a thing about eating in public!) Plus – it was so hot, I drank some eight pints of water in just that evening! Along with my two visits to Lush, my skin should be glowing ;-)
I don’t know how we would have coped without that water barrel in the corner of the room. I bought a pint of icy mineral water from the bar for £2.80(!) then continued to fill it from the free water in the barrel.
Talking of drinks, I didn’t experience too much of the bar service as I notoriously drank only tea (£1.75 a pot) and water all weekend. (I’m a wild thing and know how to party!) But it was rather erratic.
The bar upstairs opened for the odd half an hour when it felt like it, while the one downstairs seemed to be open more often but – well, it was downstairs! (Oh by the way, thanks again to everyone who bought me a drink – Squiggles, Ophelia, Ken, Allie and others I’ve forgotten.)
The Malvern room was ours for the Saturday and we made full use of it, the last ones staying up talking ‘til 4am or later. We decided to reconvene
in there again on the Sunday morning, but by then, we weren’t so welcome being informed by some snotty woman that we needed to vacate it, because Millicent the Maid had to clean up.
We had already told Millicent she was welcome to clean the room an hour before, as we were only using a handful of chairs in one corner – but evidently, this wasn’t enough. We had to be made to feel like naughty school kids too.
The staff varied from completely incompetent and rude to very sweet and helpful, depending where you were and if your luck was in. The chambermaids were rather keen too, trying to come into our room over an hour before we were due to check out of it! Good thing Allie and I weren’t doing anything kinky ;-)
The bedrooms were a huge joke in the design stakes. They were tiny and sparsely furnished. Ours had a kettle (hurray!), TV (that we never used) and a table stuffed in one side with two small beds with about a foot space between them. There was a wardrobe too, but you couldn’t open it, because the bed was in the way! Obviously designed by imbeciles.
The room also came equipped with a bizarre light switch system that was akin to some strange game show. We ended up sleeping with the bathroom light on all night because of this, but my eight pints of water meant this was useful anyway ;-)
I didn’t sleep well in the hotel. A combination of insanely loud and misplaced seagulls on a quest for world domination was a prime factor. Add to this the singing and doors banging, the noise from the street and the stifling heat and you get the idea – hardly a picture of tranquillity.
They also had feather pillows – and only one each. By the time I got to bed and noticed this, I thought it was too late to change it so I improvised. Folded up towels with my fleece over the top made an adequate replacement. I’ll let you know if I hear back from the Patent office ;-)
The next morning saw the day dawning bright and oh yes, hot. Breakfast was served for a good time, I think it was between 7 and 10am. There was a lot of seating and a wide range of cooked food, fruit juice, cereals and so on.
Not really being someone who ‘does’ breakfast, I settled for a forced down yoghurt (and another smuggled into my bag for later) and the obligatory tea. After finishing my own pot and finding the staff rather busy, I decided to collect contributions from other Ciaoer’s teapots, bringing my total to some seven cups – an ideal way to start the day.
Before leaving the hotel on the Sunday, we lounged around a bit in the TV area on the Mezzanine level, so I managed to catch a bit of Sky News and hear the latest updates on the tragic news of those poor little girls. Sending waves of bad vibes through the TV set to Ian Huntley, I pushed it to the back of my mind and enjoyed the rest of the day.
The final stragglers were left by midday – Allie and I, Mel (Cheekychicken) and Deano, Jo (pinkle) and Trish (shewhosmiles). Leaving the hotel reception provided one of the worst displays of staff incompetence that I had seen all weekend.
Jo is in a wheelchair and the hotel has revolving doors. In order to get a wheelchair through it, these doors need to be folded up so one can go through the space. So we got there and asked and waited. Then waited some more. Then a bloke appeared, tried to close the doors, said he couldn’t and disappeared.
We waited again. Then someone tried some more, but Jo finally resorted to standing up and taking a few obviously painful and difficult steps out of the hotel. She then had to hold on to the wall outside while Trish collapsed her wheelchair. Of course, around this time, one of the staff did manage to get the revolving doors sorted out.
If there had been a fire, how would they have coped? There were three or four wheelchairs amongst the C
iao attendees, so what would have happened in an emergency is anyone’s guess. I’ll never know how Jo kept her cool and didn’t thump someone!
She also told us that not only was the wheelchair ramp unsafe, but the way it was positioned in the reception meant that it was almost impossible to use, because of the coffee table in the way! This hotel definitely needs to re-think a few things and until it does, I would not say it is suitable for disabled people.
Overall, as everyone else has said, the Ciao meet was excellent and more than made up for the problems with the hotel. Ophelia (offy) had negotiated us a discount so Allie paid £45 for our room (Thanks, babe!) instead of the £110 it usually costs.
I would love to do more Ciao meets (or Dooyoo ones!), it was a great weekend and I felt I made some real, long-lasting friends. But if we go to Birmingham again (and I hope we do), let’s try another hotel. Failing that, we can all camp outside Lush :-)
Appalling problems for wheelchair users.
Too blinking hot!
Poor condition of the stairs.
Only one lift working at the time.
Some of the staff are quite rude and unhelpful.
Confusing light switches in the rooms.
Lots of noise.
Easy to get lost, it all looks the same.
It’s close to Lush.
You can get there quite easily from the train station.
The tea they serve is nice.
Um, no, that’s it – but it was worth it to meet everyone!
P.S. Gosh, that was long, sorry!!!
Here's an advert I concocted for a fictional <cough> hotel not unlike the one we stayed at - enjoy :-)
*** HOTEL PITANIA ***
Do you want to stay in a big hotel in the middle of Summer? Of course you do!
But will you choose ours?
Answer these questions and decide….
Do you like walking? Are you one of those happy bunn
ies who run up flights of stairs for fun? Are you phobic about lifts? If YES, you will love our hotel.
Do you love tropical temperatures? Will 40 degrees Celsius do you? Our staff is specially trained to cope with this, following intensive long holidays in the Caribbean. Heat is our speciality.
(A pint of water costs £2.80.)
Do you love the sea? Those magical nights of sea air and long stretches of golden beaches? Well, we can’t bring the sea to Birmingham, but we do the next best thing. We have specially imported 3000 seagulls and have carefully trained them to screech at you all night. Now you too can enjoy a seaside holiday in the middle of Birmingham.
Still not convinced? Why not sample our brand new revolutionary electricity switch system? Sponsored by the American company ‘Whatthehell?’ this has to be seen to be believed. At a switch of a button, you too can be plunged into darkness in your hotel room. (Lighters not provided.) If you want the bedside table lamp and the bathroom light to be turned on or off simultaneously, we can do this too.
Do you love having an asthma attack? Feather pillows are provided for this purpose. And only one, of course. We wouldn’t want you waking up without a neck ache now, would we? For those who prefer non-feather pillows, our suggestion is to fold the hotel towels (preferably wet) and place your fleece over the top.
Interested? Of course you are! Ring us on our permanently engaged number or email us on email@example.com
Enjoy your stay :-)
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